Oakland County deputies step up 4th of July water patrols, offer safety tips

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division is warning the public to stay safe while out on the water during 4th of July celebrations.

Fox 2 joined the marine division on Cass Lake for an early look at their enforcement efforts for the holiday.

"Make sure people know where you are going on the lake, when you plan to return," said Lt. Brian Burwell.

As part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign, running from Independence Day through July 6th, deputies are monitoring the waters and making several stops to ensure the public's safety.

One group was stopped on Wednesday for "a ‘slow, no wake’ violation," Burwell said. "Also, they did a safety inspection and the fire extinguisher was not accessible. He had it inside the box, so they issued him a warning and sent him on the way."

Additional marine deputies will be assigned to patrol the waters – looking for individuals who may be drinking too much, ensuring swimmers remain within the designated swimming areas, verifying that appropriate life jackets are available on all vessels, and confirming that children are under continuous supervision by parents or other responsible adults.

"You can’t take your eyes off kids in the water. Even that split second to answer a text message or apply some suntan lotion, that’s how fast accidents happen," Smith said.

The Oakland County team also does search and rescue. They've responded to several tragic drownings as part of a larger community of dive teams across metro Detroit. Police say many of those drownings have been linked to over-consumption of alcohol.

"They don’t always understand that when you’re on the water and the sun’s beating down on you, you’re drinking more, you’re on a boat and the boat’s moving – so you don’t always realize that your feeling the effects of alcohol more than you are, so just reminding people to drink in moderation," Smith said. "If they are going to drink – just be responsible."

For more information, Michigan's boating rules and regulations can be found here.